How to Make a Good-Looking Chord Chart

fake-chord-chart

It’s hard to produce a professional-looking chord chart without a professional design program. Egad! How can anyone expect little old you (a songwriter, not a designer) to get the chords to line up with the lyrics?

But there’s a trick! It takes a just little fussing with, but NOT MUCH! In this post, I show how to do it with Microsoft Word. And if you’re not a fan of BG, you can adapt the same steps using another word processor.

Oh, and at the end of this post is a link to a template you can download.

Enjoy!

1. Draw a table with about as many columns as there are chord changes per line. If you need more for some lines or sections, you can always split cells. Use twice as many rows as lines of text.

chord and lyric table 1

2. Merge the cells for every other row. This is where your lyrics will go.

3. Enter the chords; one per cell. Choose a text formatting you like. (Bold is common for chords.)

chord and lyric table 3

4. So that each pair of chords and lyrics will hold close together (with more space after each line of lyrics) try this. Highlight each row of chords. Use the paragraph formatting to set the line spacing to “exact” spacing. Try 18 points to start; adjust as necessary. Then highlight each cell of lyrics and set the line spacing to “single.”

5. Type in the lyrics.

chord and lyric table 4

6. Align the chords to the lyrics. Triple click in the cell with the chord you want to align to highlight it. Grab the left border and move it to where you want it. If you are really fussy and can’t get the chords exactly as you like them, try either of these solutions: a) move the cell border further to the left and add a space before the chord symbol, or b)  adjust the cell margins (under table layout). You can fiddle with the left margin until it meets your satisfaction.

chord and lyric table 5

7. Highlight the entire table and hide the table borders. If you still see border shadows on screen, they won’t show when you print.

chord and lyric table 6

And that’s pretty much it. Here’s a link to a MS Word document to get you started, if you wish.

Want to go further? You CAN!

Each chapter in this 300-page eBook breaks down everything that effective composers do intuitively. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of step-by-step instructions to help you create the same effects in your own music.

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David Fuentes

David Fuentes

Professor Fuentes is a composer, author, teacher, and clinician. He brings over 30 years of teaching experience from institutions that include Berklee College of Music, the University of Iowa, Brandeis University, and Calvin University.

Dr. Fuentes’ music has been performed all across the world. It includes music for the classical concert stage, theater and musical theater, television, art installations, popular music genres, and the church.

A published author, his writing on composition, vocation and the arts, and the place of music in human flourishing has been influential in the development of music curriculum in an ever-changing world.

You can find samples of his music and writing on his personal website: davidfuentesmusic.com, which also provides a longer bio.

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